The Most Intelligent Cat Breeds

Every cat owner thinks their pet is one of the smartest! They all have their little quirks and habits that convince us they’re really thinking things through on a higher level. Cats in general are quite intelligent animals. However, as smart as our cats might be, there are some breeds of cat that are more intelligent than others. Thanks to genetics, some breeds just have an in-built advantage over others!

The most intelligent cat breeds - Bengal

Cat intelligence can take quite a few forms, so picking the most intelligent cat breeds can be a bit tricky. Measuring pet intelligence is a little difficult since they’re pretty different from us. There are many different types of intelligence for cats, but measuring them needs a stable and comparable definition. Which animal is the most intelligent really depends on how you measure intelligence. With dogs, this often comes down to training and their responses to humans. The most intelligent cat breeds are also often those who are most cooperative with humans, but this is due to how we test their intelligence.

Cat intelligence can be measured by the ability to solve problems more than taking direct orders from humans. This might mean that your cat isn’t necessarily one of the most intelligent just because it knows its name! Although, the more desire a cat has to be co-operative with others, the easier time it’ll have in showing its intelligence!

These are the most intelligent cat breeds, but only by some metrics. All cats have intelligence; it is just that some are genetically wired to excel in one area or another. Every cat is intelligent in a certain way, such as social intelligence or scheming to break into the treat box when unattended. To really understand this, you’ve got to think about what is specifically meant by cat intelligence.

What Makes the Most Intelligent Cat Breeds?

The most intelligent cat breeds will excel in certain areas, but cats as a whole are pretty intelligent creatures. We measure intelligence in cats mainly by comparing them to ourselves. Cats show some signs of intelligence that most people would only link to humans. They perform well in tests of understanding verbal communication, perception and processing their perception, their memory, and speed of their thinking for problem-solving. These are the main categories where we compare human intelligence to others, so cats come out pretty high in these tests.

Cats even possess object permanence, the ability to recognize that an object exists even when taken out of sight. Few animals have this, and even young children don’t quite have this perception. This type of intelligence makes cats great pets. However, if you’re looking for the most intelligent cat breeds then you’ve got to look a bit further. These are some of the ways that we can judge how intelligent a cat breed is.


Tests have found that cats have a remarkable memory. Some cats are able to recall events and circumstances from 10 years ago pretty well. This is really quite impressive for an animal. 10 years would even be impressive for forgetful humans! The most intelligent cat breeds tend to rank highly in this category.


Another clear sign of cat intelligence is their ability to learn and adapt. This might seem simple, but reacting to new information and environments by using your past experiences is a sign of higher thought processes. The speed of this learning is what separates some cat breeds from others in terms of intelligence. The ability to solve problems is what makes them more adaptable to their environments.


Cats are a large group of animals that includes some pretty big, wild, or even just weird, breeds. This list of the most intelligent cat breeds is limited to those who have been domesticated. Or at least commonly domesticated, as some might claim they’ve successfully domesticated big cats but we can’t really count those! The process of domesticating a cat has had an impact on their intelligence.

A domesticated cat has fewer opportunities to flex their ability to learn and adapt. This has made them, not less intelligent, but kind of lazier. A domesticated cat will rarely have to apply their learning capabilities to continue to find food and thrive. However, they do still apply this intelligence in learning to please their owner to get treats or another reward.

Domesticating cats hasn’t made them any less intelligent, but it has removed some of the pressure to use their intelligence. This might be why facts like a 10-year memory seem surprising about cats. Across the board, domesticated cats are a lot smarter than their lives need them to be!

What are the Most Intelligent Cat Breeds?

There are a lot of different cat breeds and each has different characteristics. Some might be the biggest, or the smallest, or the fluffiest, or you could even make the argument that one breed is specifically the cutest! These breeds though are the ones that are the most intelligent when measured in tests. This doesn’t necessarily mean that other cat breeds aren’t intelligent though. However, these are the breeds that excel genetically.


These cats are athletic, and they’re definitely built for it! They’re agile and capable of moving around in an impressive way. However, they’re not all brawn and no brains. These are some of the most intelligent cats based on their ability to understand and interact with humans.

The most intelligent cat breeds - abyssinian cat

These pets take a lot of joy from human interaction. They really enjoy grooming and getting petted, but they really need the company of people or other animals to be happy. This even extends down to the way they learn and memorize things. They’re capable of doing these things quickly and successfully because of their desire to get along with people. This makes them one of the most intelligent cat breeds, but also one of the sweetest.


The Balinese is a similar breed of cat to a Siamese. The main difference here is their fur. The Balinese is a particularly fluffy and long-haired pet. It is also one of the most intelligent though. These cats are particularly well known for their loud mouths! Basically, they like to talk back. The Balinese can vocalize their thoughts in response to social cues much more effectively than other breeds.

The most intelligent cat breeds - balinese

Communicating verbally is a quirk of domestication, but these cats have shown themselves to be great at learning and adapting to circumstances by adapting to us. Humans are much more vocal than cats. These cats can take that information, and adapt by becoming much more vocal animals themselves to interact with us. Outside of this, they’re also well known for needing mental stimulation! These cats shouldn’t be allowed to get bored, they enjoy having things to occupy their time with!


The Bengal cat looks a bit more like its big cat cousins than a domesticated cat. It should be no surprise that these cats are also quite intelligent then. They’re well known as athletes. They need space to run, climb, and exercise. However, they also need mental stimulation. They can’t quite master crosswords, but they do enjoy puzzles for cats and these kinds of games can be a great way to keep them stimulated.

The Bengal is a pretty unique breed of cat with its appearance, talent for athletics, and enquiring mind. They still make a great pet though; you’ll just have to work a little harder to keep them entertained than other cats.

The most intelligent cat breeds - Bengal


The Burmese are another affectionate and outgoing breed that often comes out high in intelligence tests. These pets are capable of being trained pretty well. Training cats is hard work, but the Burmese take to following instructions and memorizing the meaning of words much better than other cats.

This might be because of their need to please who they’re with. The Burmese are also a particularly social cat. They really need the company of other people or pets to stop them from getting bored or lonely. They’re prone to causing chaos if left alone for too long, as they become bored or lonely.

The Most Intelligent Cat Breeds - brown burmese cat

Cornish Rex

The Cornish Rex cat is kind of strange-looking, but they are also really quite intelligent. They play in a way that’s similar to dogs, enjoying the interaction with humans and other pets. These cats enjoy playing fetch like a dog and can be entertained and getting their exercise by these types of games rather than solitary workouts. They also take quite well to being taken outside with other people.

They are more intelligent than most other cats, and this might be why they’re so good at playing some games.

The most intelligent cat breeds - cornish rex
Cornish rex

Havana Brown

The Havana Brown cat is another one of the most intelligent cat breeds that are particularly sociable. Like the others, this cat really needs the company of people or animals to be happy. Their social intelligence is really high. They can learn to socialize in the company of more verbal animals, play games, and be quite affectionate. These qualities make them great pets for someone looking for a more active cat.

Are All Cat Breeds Intelligent?

A common theme with the most intelligent cat breeds is those that enjoy the company of people the most tend to be intelligent. This isn’t a coincidence. Our tests of intelligence in cats often come down to how cooperative a breed is. The most social cats will have the motivation to engage in games and social learning with humans and other animals. This often makes the most sociable cats the most intelligent too.

Those are the most intelligent cat breeds out there! However, this doesn’t mean your cat isn’t intelligent. All cats are clever animals in one way or another. On top of that though, they’re great and loving pets!

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